Contrary to previous reports, while there may not have been a major speech about Trump’s position on immigration, there was something of a pivot during a town hall event with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. In essence, Donald Trump has decided to adopt the Jeb Bush position on immigration, which is earned legal status for those who have been here for years, getting rid of the illegal immigrants who broke our laws, and securing the border. He also supports these people paying back taxes, which is a core policy for the immigration reform agenda (via Betsy Woodruff, Daily Beast):
“We want to follow the laws,” Trump replied, glowering. “You know, we have very strong laws, we have very strong laws in this country. And I don’t know if you know, but Bush and even Obama sends people back. Now, we can be more aggressive in that, but we want to follow the laws.
“If you start going around trying to make new laws in this country, it’s a process that’s brutal,” he added.
So: No new laws, maybe. Also consider being “more aggressive.” Maybe. Not an answer. But OK.
“We’ve got some great people in this country,” he then said. “They shouldn’t be here, they’re still great people.”
“But we’ve got some really really bad gang members,” Trump continued, “and some horrible people.”
Those people are going out Day 1,” Trump replied. “They’re going to be the first order—they’re going out Day 1.”
Then Hannity asked about law-abiding, hard-working, home-owning undocumented immigrants.
“What about them? Do they have to go back or would you reconsider that?” Hannity asked.
“We are going to follow the laws of the country,” Trump replied.
“They have to go back?” Hannity followed up.
“We’re going to see who people are, we’re going to see how they’ve done,” Trump replied.
So: President Trump would prioritize deporting undocumented immigrants convicted of violent crimes and would be open to “softening” and, maybe, letting others stay. That’s basically Jeb Bush’s stance: that some undocumented immigrants are dangerous and violent, and they need to be deported, and that others are decent, hard-working people who can offer a lot to American society, and they should stick around.
Trump, in excerpt of townhall with Hannity, on what to do with undocumented immigrants. Whooo boy: pic.twitter.com/VT5mE1EXpZ— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) August 24, 2016
This is worth your time to read. Trump polling the Hannity taping audience on whether he should mass deport or not: pic.twitter.com/RreYuPUCXn— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 25, 2016
Right, the same positions that Trump slammed Bush for supporting in February, because they were too weak on illegal immigration. In fact, much of Trump’s attacks on Bush, besides calling him “low energy,” were based on his stance on immigration. Let’s just get to the heart of the matter; Trump may do a few things differently. He may allow ICE agents to deport more people, he will certainly add more measures that ensure border and immigration enforcement, but he’s not going to deport 11 million people. He’s probably not going to build the wall. He’s going to be a more aggressive version of Obama. So, in other words, we could’ve had Marco, or dare I say Ted, and have this not be an issue for the GOP base. Heck, 47 percent of Trump supporters back amnesty, with 56 percent of Republican backing a pathway to legal status.
For the Trump supporters who actually thought there was going to be a deportation force, a wall, and immigration enforcement like we’ve never seen before, welcome to politics—where disappointment in our lawmakers is pervasive. The man you thought was going to be the Sheriff Arpaio at the federal level turned out to be more like Jeb.
At the same time, you can also remind Clinton supporters that their gal said she was “adamantly against illegal immigrants” back in 2003.